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The Year of Shadows

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  980 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
Olivia wants a new life—and it might take ghosts to get it. A heartfelt, gently Gothic novel from Claire Legrand.

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother’s left, her neglectful father—the maestro of a failing orchestra—has moved her and her grandmother into the city’s dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
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Kyla I know I'm answering a question that Is 9 months old but still I'm going to answer you.
I don't know if this book is available at your library but you…more
I know I'm answering a question that Is 9 months old but still I'm going to answer you.
I don't know if this book is available at your library but you can always buy It online.
Just a recommendation.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lola  Reviewer
What would the world of Death look like?
1) a long, winding, icy river full of drifting souls
2) stars forever and ever, in all directions
3) heaven (clouds, angels, golden gates)
4) hell (fire, brimstone, demons)
5) nothing

Admittedly, middle grade is not my to-go genre. But, when in the mood, I can myself having such a great time with those reads. I remember when I was reading The Storybook of Legends and The School for Good and Evil (which are both MG books) and finding them so interesting and en
Claire Legrand
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
All right, so I'm rating my own book again, and as I do so, Olivia is standing behind me, looking over my shoulder, peeking out over her sketchpad.

"You're really gonna do that?" she asks. "Rate your own book?"

(At this point, Victoria, elsewhere in my brain, puffs up indignantly, but I shut her up before she can start ranting.)

"Well, I'm proud of this book," I explain to Olivia. "I think it's okay to say so."

Olivia shifts back and forth. She's very quiet. "It was a hard book to live through."

We s
Steph Sinclair
Middle Grade fiction and I don't usually get along, which is funny considering their covers are the cutest things EVER. I am one of those people easily swayed by pretty covers and I just can't help clicking that "To Read" button on Goodreads. What can I say? I have ZERO self-control. You should also know that I do not do Horror. Like, at all because I am a total scaredy cat who's afraid of her own shadow. I sleep with a teddy bear and everything. But anyway, for The Year of Shadows I knew I had ...more
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

This is another book that I read on my hiatus way back in July, but once again, a novel that really stuck to the back of my mind. The Year of Shadows is a MG novel, and a particularly beautiful one. It explored some pretty dark themes--literally and non-literally, and had the best characters.

I honestly loved all the characters in the end. The book starts with Oliva, and she's had a really tough year--her mother left her without a word, and money started to be
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: younger, ghosts
See the cover? OK, it is dark in color, but aside from that the illustration style seems pretty cute and juvenile. This led me to expect a light and fluffier novel than this actually is. That's not a complaint -- I would probably have read it sooner had I not feared it would be too twee for me, as many recent middle grade books have been.

In fact this story is pretty serious and rather dark. Legrand accurately portrays the anger and confusion of people who are facing serious life issues. And the
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, arc
A delightful, yet dark MG novel; The Year of Shadows is dusted with ghosts, entertaining personalities, and an unexpected amount of grave topics which are handled with complete expertise, all through the delicate eyes of a child who is harboring a mountain of pain.

This book is about a young girl, Olivia, who has had to move into this battered concert hall where her father works due to the stupid Economy. Fostering anger towards both her father for bringing her to this dank place, and her mother
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
In my opinion on this Book, The Years of Shadows is a slow action book about this girl Olivia and how her life has changed when he mom has "left" her and all the things that happen to her as she tries to continue a normal life. I think this is a really slow action book because the rising action of the story starts out really slow and it kinda bores me, so I just skipped to the middle towards the end of the book to read the climax and the falling action. I can kinda relate to this book because on ...more
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Middle grade books always get to me. Why? Because childhood and innocence are sacred to me and when injustices are done to either of these two precious things, it's difficult to accept.

Claire Legrand's The Year of Shadows is not a walk in the park. It is not an action adventure that you can read on and off for a few giggles. This is a story of loss. Many losses. Olivia and her Nonnie and her maestro father have moved into the music hall because money is tight and they've had to sell their belong
Kat (Lost in Neverland)
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it

Update 7-30-13: Thank you, First Reads GR Giveaways and Simon and Schuster for my ARC of the book!

Olivia hates the music hall.
It's cold, dark, crumbling, and brings up memories that she'd rather forget.
And now she's living there.
After Olivia's mother left, her father (whom she refers to as simply 'the Maestro') makes an impulsive decision and sells their house, in the hopes they can save his dying orchestra.
Olivia is forced to live in a dank, depressing storage room with her aging grandmother
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
3.5 stars, rounded up for Igor being the awesomest

First up, the disclaimer: yes, I know Claire Legrand and she's awesome, but that did not influence my opinion of the book in any way. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Though I've had Claire's debut novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls for over a year now, I've not managed to work it into my schedule, so I'm glad I've finally gotten to try her writing. Also, I'm pleased to say that I like her writing. Hurrah! Claire Legrand has written a beautiful, oc
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, mid-reader, 2013
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year. That's an understatement if there ever was one.

The Year of Shadows is the story of Olivia and her father, the maestro of a failing orchestra and the year after her mother leaves the family. Oh--and the ghosts! When The Maestro sells the family home and moves his elderly mother and Olivia into the backstage area of the music hall it turns out the place is haunted by ghosts. They're tied to the old crumbling hall, unable to move to the afterlife. The onl
Carina Olsen
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have finally, finally read this book for a second time. It's been more than four years since I first read it. And so I had forgotten just how much I loved this book. And oh, my love for it is strong. I adore Claire like crazy, and her books are always the best. I simply loved this book the most this second time reading it. I'm so glad that I finally took the time to read it again. I adore Olivia and Henry and the ghosts the very most. Eee. But oh gosh, my want for a sequel is so huge right now ...more
usagi ☆ミ
This is a book that older MG/young YA desperately needs right now - a book that helps explain what Legrand calls "The Economy", and how it's affecting kids. "The Year of Shadows" is a book that is not only just a ghost story, but is also a very real story about kids in that late tween/early teen age range that is learning to deal in a new world that's let them down, a new reality that has reset everything they've learned thus far about their lives, with some ghosts and a metaphor about moving on ...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship

I'm not very familiar with Marilyn Monroe; I haven't seen many movie of hers nor listened to her songs. Yet, I love the way she talks. And so I'd like you to hallucinate this review in her voice and accent.

The Year of Shadows has a lot to give to those who ask for it.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those.

The book works on a banal concept, but the execution is diverse and that's where the strength lies.

Olivia Stellatella's is the kid who's having to move into a concert hall, whose mother has ab
Melanie Perez
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Olivia moved in a music hall and is trying to help her ghost friends save the music hall. Will she be able to help and save the music hall? I hope you read this book and like it.
Ivonne Rovira
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone craving a great tale
In The Year of Shadows, Claire Legrand has produced a worthy follow-up to her excellent The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. The book traces embittered loner Olivia Stellatella’s seventh grade school year, a year in which she discovers ghosts and the meaning of family.

As the book opens in September, Olivia, her orchestra conductor father and Italian-immigrant grandmother have been reduced to living at the back of Maestro Otto Stellatella’s beloved Emerson Hall, a decrepit concert hall that’s h
taylor ♀
DNF @ 25%. just wasn't interested, which is sad because i fucking love the authors' other books.
Well, when I read this book, I never knew how much "feels" I would have. Lets just say, there was A LOT of feels.

Full review to come...
Shae McDaniel
Originally reviewed at

I... I'm sorry, I need a moment. I'm still working through all my crazy, flaily feelings over this book. If any of you have read The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and were worried that Ms. Legrand might not be able to live up to her smash debut, worry no more! Though Shadows isn't on the same level of freaky horror as Cavendish it excels in the same gothic, touching, heartfelt tone as its predecessor.

The star of the show is Olivi
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-edelweiss, 2013
Originally posted at Gypsy Reviews

I received an eARC from the publisher, thanks!

The Year of Shadows was such a satisfying and enjoyable read, it was endearing and had some very strong messages about family, letting go, forgiveness and friendship. It is an exemplary example why I love Middle Grade books and will always continue reading them, no matter that I’m way beyond the years for reading middle grade.

Olivia lives in the concert hall now because her father’s orchestra is losing money quick, h
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Full review with teacher-y stuff added!

Twelve-year-old Olivia Stellatella (love that protagonist name, by the way!) is a troubled, angry main character, and readers can quickly see why. At the beginning of The Year of Shadows, Olivia is moving into a storage room in a dilapidated old concert hall with her grandmother and father. The reason for Olivia’s near homelessness is her father, whom she will only refer to as “the Maestro”. He is the conductor of an orchestra that has hit hard financial ti
This book was a lot deeper than I was expecting it to be. And I was practically sobbing by the end. After having read this author's first book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, I thought this would be more of the same, a little bit of spooky but with some wit to kind of lighten the mood at times. There was very little mood lightening here, but don't let that turn you away from this book. I feel like the word "beautiful" would kind of describe my thoughts come the end.

This book centers on O
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my most anticipated summer reads, The Year of Shadows sounded like the perfect mix with an orchestra hall filled with ghosts and a troubled, yet brave girl who would help them. Olivia is not the happiest little girl and finds that her life is about to become more miserable. Her father is an orchestra director and loves the orchestra more than her mother, who left and her, who is now forced to live at the hall with her grandmother and father. Things are not going well for the orchestra an ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is about a girl named Olivia. Her mother, whom she loved beyond anyone else, abandoned Olivia almost a year ago. Her father is an obsessed maestro - his music and orchestra is his life. This is the main reason Olivia's mother left them, and Olivia has hated her father for it. The breaking point comes when Olivia's father sells all of their things (including their house) for his orchestra, leaving them practically homeless. Now, Olivia, her grandmother, and her father have to move into ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
Ghosts are not just spooky, mysterious creatures – they symbolize the pain and sense of loss that results from being separated forever from something or someone we love dearly. The object of our loss is always with us, a phantom memory that can seem as real and as palpable as the original presence. The author of this exquisite ghost story does not skimp on the creepiness or the mystery, but it is with a special sensitivity and wistful beauty that she conveys this sense of loss and longing to rec ...more
Melissa Chung
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oh the feels. It's amazing how much emotion can be put into a middle grade. You think it's just a kids story, but I have found out recently that middle grade can have challenging subjects, move me to tears over and over again and be full of depth and profound beauty.

I thought 'The Year of Shadows' was going to be a fluff horror story for kids. About a girl who could talk to ghosts. That was only part of the story.

Olivia is 12 in 7th grade and just lost her mom and her home. Her mom left the fam
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg
I'm going to admit I didn't think I'd like this book as much as Legrand's debut gothic MC, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. The blurb just seemed pretty basic to me, and the writing started off simple. But, boy was I wrong!

There are two things that made it for me: Character and Emotion.

There were so many feels in this book and I felt them all. And that is exactly its strength. From grief to longing and the occasional sweetness and fun, everything's here and that's what made it feel real.

Shay McClean
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A girl whose father is the maestro of a failing symphony has to move into a dilapidated concert hall and sleep in one of the dressing rooms with her grandmother. The place is haunted (aren't all concert halls, probably?) by ghosts, and she and her frien.. er, excuse me, partner.. set out to find them.

I loved this one to pieces. The protagonist is spiky and surly, but in an endearing way, and the plot is easy to follow and satisfying. It's marketed for 8-12 year olds; I'd put it at the higher end
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades
I should probably mention, first off, that I'm a conductor by trade. So this middle grades book, about a failing orchestra and the Maestro's daughter, Olivia, was meant for me. What I was not expecting was to have an emotional reaction to the story, but I did.

"I'm not sure he believed me. But I think he liked what I said anyway. I think it was nice to imagine. Sometimes that's how you get through things."

Olivia, her elderly grandmother, and her father have been forced to move into the old concer
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Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn't stop thinking about the stories in her head. A native Texan, she is now a writer and librarian living in central New Jersey.

Her first novel is THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, one of the New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2012. She is also the author of THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, a ghost story for mid
More about Claire Legrand...

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“It's a strange feeling, when you hear a good piece of music. It starts out kind of shaky, this hot, heavy knot in your chest. At first it's tiny, like a spot of light in a dark room, but then it builds, pouring through you. And the next thing you know, everything from your forehead down to your fingers and toes is on fire. You feel like the hot, heavy knot in your chest is turning into a bubble. It's full of everything good in the world, and if you don't do something--if you don't run or dance or shout to everyone in the world about this music you've just heard--it'll explode.” 14 likes
“Have you ever watched people when they don't know you're watching them? Like in a movie theater or a concert. When people get caught up in watching something, their faces change. The lines on their faces get softer, because whatever they're watching has made them forget how they think they're supposed to be looking. Instead, they just ARE — just sitting there, listening and watching and being real.” 10 likes
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